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Monday, December 6, 2010

Adding Cameras to Your Hunting Toolbox

image credit jurvetson
 Guest post By Maureen Page

Game cameras, aka "hunting cameras," "trail cameras" or "scouting cameras" have come a long way in recent years. Hunting cameras are used to help pinpoint where the game is. Prior to hunting season, the cameras are set up in various locations. Then, after weeks or months, the cameras are retrieved to see which locations were attracting the most wildlife. Think of them as surveillance cameras for the woods. But unlike surveillance cameras for a home or business, hunting cameras have some special requirements. First and foremost they must be entirely self-contained, battery operated, and weather and game proof. Game cameras can cost from $50 up to $600 depending on the features that you desire.

Battery Life is Important
Hunting cameras are typically set up in the woods away from habitation. Because you don't want to disturb the game site or leave your scent, the camera may be left alone for quite some time. So a long battery life is usually important. Some camera models have up to 150 days of battery life.
Motion Detection Zone
The motion detection zone is the area in front of the camera where the camera will detect motion.

Detection zones can be wide or narrow: 

Wide detection zone
A camera with a wide detection zone will capture more animals as the animal will not need to be directly in front of the camera. Thus you will get more opportunities to capture animal images. The down side is that this also means more pictures taken, more storage space taken, and more battery use.
Narrow detection zone
A camera with a narrow detection zone only takes a picture when the animal is directly in front of the camera. The advantage of this is that you are more likely to get a good close-up picture of the animal. You also do not take as many pictures, use as much storage, and drain the battery as fast. The down side is you will detect far fewer animals. You also need to get a camera with a very fast trigger speed (see below) to make sure that the image is snapped while the animal is in the field of view.
Trigger Speed
The trigger speed is how long it takes for the camera to snap the first image from when motion is detected in the zone. Trigger speed can be the difference between getting a good picture and taking a picture of the animal's rump. Unless you are planning to take pictures of a bait site or watering hole where animals linger, having a fast trigger speed is preferred.
Recovery Time
Recovery time is how long after taking a picture it takes the camera to be able to take another picture. In general, for reasons similar to trigger speed, you want a fast recovery time. The type of flash you have may also impact a camera's recovery time.
Incandescent vs. Infrared Flash
Incandescent flashes give a bright flash of white light similar to your point and shoot digital camera. The advantage is that you get clear color night pictures. The down side is that they significantly decrease battery life, and they slow trigger time and recovery time. Also, tests have shown that many animals are "spooked" by incandescent flash.
Infrared flash emits light that the eye cannot see but the camera is sensitive to. The advantage is that infrared flash is much less likely to spook animals. It also taxes the battery life much less and trigger times and recovery times can be much faster using infrared flash. The down side is the night photographs will be in black and white and not quite as clear. Note that cameras with either type of flash typically can take color pictures during the day (flash is only used at night).
This one is a judgment call – fewer pictures of animals because of "spooking" vs. higher quality color night images. But, if battery life is critical for your application then infrared is the way to go.
Storage Capacity
Game cameras record to a Secure Digital (SD) card connected to the camera. SD cards can store up to 16 gigabytes (gig) on some cameras. A 16 gig SD card can store thousands of snapshots but the exact number depends on the resolution of the camera and many other factors. Unless you plan on visiting your camera on a frequent basis - the more storage capacity you have available the better.
Don't Forget to Lock Down Your Camera
Remember that your hunting camera will be unattended in the wild. And since your images are stored with the camera, if the camera gets stolen the captured images are stolen too. Lock boxes are available to help deter theft and protect the camera from wildlife damage. Modern hunting cameras also include password protection. This won't keep people from stealing the camera but will prevent anyone who does steal it from using it. (So it acts as a deterrent.)
Other Cool Applications
Many hunting cameras have a time lapse feature allowing the camera to take images on a regularly scheduled basis. This is a great way to get a time-lapse view of an area. You can photograph the changing seasons or a nest being built for example. Some also use the time-lapse feature to photograph construction or other projects.
I'd like to thank Maureen for this great educational article about Trail cameras.Maureen Page is the VP of Discount Security Cameras, your source for qualitysecurity cameras and security camera systems. To learn more about security camera systems and video surveillance visit the Discount Security Cameras Interactive Security Camera Learning Center.

Related articles on Ben G. Outdoors
Ten Steps for a successful Whitetail scouting trip. (Part 1 of 3 Tips on how to get a deer this season with a busy Schedule)
10 tips for Picking the Best Place for your stand and setting it up for success.(Part 2 of 3 Tips on how to get a deer this season with a busy seclude)
How to get to your deer stand with out getting noticed (in the dark)

Related articles from around the web
Using Trail Cameras As A Youth Learning Tool

 Trail Camera Basics - Things to look for when buying a scouting camera


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